I believe we can all agree that 2016 was not the year we expected it to be. We have all felt grief, disappointment, anger, sadness. We will never get Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman or George Michael back. Donald Trump is the new president of the USA. Innocent civilians in Aleppo keep dying. Palestinians are still fighting for their freedom. Bombs keep exploding in Turkey. Germany is weeping.
But that should not stop you from living. This anger, this sadness that you feel should make you want to keep going. It should make you want to be a better person, and make the world a better place. We are the new generation. We are the change that the world desperately needs because, no matter what old, bitter people say, we are the future. And I believe in us.
So I’ve put together a list of things I’ve learned in 2016 and that are, I believe, important life lessons. Today I am sharing them with you, and I hope that together, we can make 2017 a better year.
1. Spread more kindness.
Everywhere you go. Compliment your friends. Smile to people on public transport. Donate to people in need. Hug someone you love. Just be kind.
2. Education is so much better when you study what you love.
If you are going to university next year and can’t decide which degree to pick, please, choose the one you know you will enjoy. Education is meant to be about passion. Whether it’s engineering, history, English literature, law or film, go for what you love – and not something your family is telling you to do.
3. Alone time is great.
Take a moment each day to relax and be with yourself. Read a book. Listen to music. Draw. Enjoy your own company.
4. Honesty is the key to every relationship.
Gentle but honest communication is so important. Nurture your relationships by being honest with the other person and let them know when something is bothering you.
5. If someone doesn’t make you happy, let them go.
I just cannot stress this enough. Freeing yourself from toxic relationships will make your life so much better. It’s okay to think of your own happiness first.
6. You don’t need a relationship to be happy.
You are enough. You don’t need another person to complete you. A relationship is not a replacement for self-esteem or happiness: you need to find that within yourself.
7. Exercise more.
Go for a run. Do some yoga. Walk instead of getting the bus. Get a membership to the gym if you can afford it. Your mental health will be thankful.
8. Friendship is about moving the earth for the other person.
Real friends should be like your family. Friendship is about putting the other person’s happiness before your own, and supporting them no matter what. Nothing less.
9. Find something that makes you want to get up in the morning.
Whether it’s playing football, writing, reading, running, cooking, gardening, etc – find something that you love and let it be your motivation.
10. People will judge you and that’s okay.
Not everyone is going to like you. As long as you’re happy with yourself and not hurting yourself or anyone, that’s perfectly fine.
11. It’s okay to think about yourself first sometimes.
This goes with freeing yourself from toxic or abusive relationships. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. You have every right to do it.
12. Eat what makes you feel good.
Your diet has such a big impact on your mental health. Try to eat healthy food that will make you feel good – your day will instantly improve.
13. Saying no is fine.
You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to do. If you feel uncomfortable with something, say no. It’s okay.
14. Family is not determined by blood.
Some people are lucky enough to be born in a healthy, loving family. Others are not. And that’s okay because there will be a time where you don’t have to see these people anymore – and you will choose your true family, amongst friends or a significant other.
15. You don’t owe anyone anything.
You don’t owe anyone anything, whether it’s your time, your energy, your love or your body. If you don’t want to give something to someone, don’t do it.
16. Always strive to be better than the person you were yesterday.
Your only true rival is you. Your main goal should always be about bettering yourself. May the new year bring you all a lot of happiness. Always remember that the future is in your hands, and the only key to creating a better world is hope.